Champion New Zealand trotting filly Kahdon has dodged death after being struck down by a mystery ailment. The multiple group oneharness racing winner nearly died in a Victorian veterinary clinic yesterday in what trainer Mark Jones says could be the lowest point of a problem that might have been troubling her for more than a week.
While fears for her survival have now been allayed, she is out of Sunday's rich Victoria Trotting Derby and is likely to return to Canterbury.
That means the 3-year-oldfilly will almost certainly miss the Australasian Breeders Crown next month.
"It was really touch and go there for a while," said Jones yesterday.
"She wasn't herself over the weekend and Craig [Demmler, caretaker trainer] thought something was up so took her to the veterinary clinic as a precaution last [Sunday] night.
"But once she was there she got worse and worse.
"We think she had a blood infection and halfway through the day we thought we might lose her.
"She is coming better now but we were lucky Craig had taken her to the clinic otherwise she could have been in real trouble."
Kahdon could have started favourite for the Victoria Derby after a remarkable autumn in which she went from being rated somewhere in the top five of her age to being the best 3-year-old trotter in Australasia.
Her ride to the top started with a slightly luckless second to Shezoneoftheboyz in the New Zealand Trotting Derby in April before bolting away with the Sires' Stakes at Alexandra Park in May.
She returned a week later to down Miami H in the Northern Trotting Derby then finished a fighting second in the Harness Jewels after starting from the second line.
Just six days later, she beat Australia's best in the Victoria Oaks.
That was her first start for Jones after he took Kahdon over from training genius Paul Nairn and her next start was the first sign of concern.
She was beaten by high-class Victorian trotter Rostevarren in her heat of the Derby 10 days ago and while Jones said there was no disgrace in that he knew after the race the filly was not right.
"She was stopping on the way back to the stables and trying to stretch, like she had a problem somewhere," said Jones.
"I am not sure if that and what happened to her today are related but I had the feeling something wasn't right."
Jones says new owner, Peter Chambers, who is believed to have paid more than $200,000 for Kahdon in May, has been "unbelievable" about the set-back.
"He is very patient and has told me that if she has to go in the paddock and miss the Derby and the Breeders Crown then so be it.
"So that is almost certainly what will happen. She is definitely out of the Derby and I would say the Crown as well."
Kahdon's withdrawal leaves Pukekohe trotter Miami H as the possible favourite for the Derby, as long as he draws well.
He stunned locals with an impressive Australian debut at Geelong last Wednesday, winning effortlessly after leading throughout.
He has come through that run well and trainer Derek Balle is hoping for a front-line draw for Sunday's classic.
"He is good in front and we added half hopples to his gear after he galloped at the Jewels and they seem to boost his confidence around the first bend," said Balle.
The draw for the Derby will be made today.
Also drawn today will be the field for the Australian Oaks at Melton, outside Melbourne, which will contain New Zealand's champion pacing filly De Lovely.
The Harness Jewels and New Zealand Oaks winner is the likely favourite for the classic but will clash with former New Zealand filly Millwood Meg, who has been in sensational form in West Australia and Queensland since being exported a few months ago.
Leading driver David Butcher will travel to Victoria to partner De Lovely.
By Michael Guerin
Courtesy of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD